Friday, January 29, 2010


My writing overentusiasm has slowen down a bit. I started writing THE SECRETS OF SMITH HALL in the beginning of December. I wrote like gang busters for three weeks, then went of vaccation, then came home and started writing like crazy again. Right now I have about 45,000 words. I have a detailed outline of the entire story and have written 26 of the 36 chapters, so I’m 72% complete. If I pushed myself really hard, I could probably finish my rough draft by mid February. But I’m no longer in a big rush.

This isn’t the first book I’ve written. Granted I haven’t published anything else yet, but I’ve done enough writing to know how large the gab is between the first draft and the final draft. If 10k of the 45k words I’ve already written appear in the final draft I’d be surprized. Even if I haven’t written the ending yet, I can see it in my head. And now I’m starting to wonder if that’s really the story I want to tell.

It’s not that I don’t like what I’ve written, or where it’s going. I like my characters a lot, and think this story has a lot of potential. I’m just more willing to take time to reflect and read other things and contemplate how I want this to look in a final draft. The mad rush to finish a first draft does feel all that important. What is the point of writing a first draft in two months if I know I’m gonna have to revise it for at least six more months. Maybe I should just take a breath and write the best story I can.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m reflecting. I’m reading. I’m writing. I’m living. But I’m not rushing.

Joke of the Day

A writer comes home to a burned down house. His sobbing and slightly-singed wife is standing outside. “What happened, honey?” the man asks.
“Oh, John, it was terrible,” she weeps. “I was cooking, the phone rang. It was your agent. Because I was on the phone, I didn’t notice the stove was on fire. It went up in second. Everything is gone. I nearly didn’t make it out of the house. Poor Fluffy is--”
“Wait, wait. Back up a minute,” The man says. “My agent called?”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Copying Classics

CAMP LIFE, the novel I’m currently querying, is a loose adaptation of ROMEO & JULIET set at a high school summer camp. Copying Shakespeare has more advantages than just making it easy to describe my novel in one sentance. I probably read R&J a dozen times while I was writing CAMP LIFE. Every time I got caught up on a plot point, I just went back to the bard.

When I finished CAMP LIFE, I thought about doing a sort of series. I didn’t want to reuse any of my characters in future novels. But I thought about adapting more of Shakespeare’s plays. So each book in the series would be another classic retold. My question was which play to remake next. SHE’S THE MAN and TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU are teen movies adaptations of TWELTH NIGHT and TAMING OF THE SHREW respecively, so I didn’t really want to do either of those. HAMLET and MCBETH are both seriously bloody and seemed a bit grusem for a YA novel, so I voted them out as well.

I thought about trying to remake OTHELLO. Then I reread OTHELLO and remembered how depressing it is. I thought about doing a comedy and looked into A COMEDY OF ERRORS and AS YOU LIKE IT. Either of those stories could be adapted to modorn teens, but I wasn’t in the mood to write about mistaken identity or cross dressing. MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING is probably the easiest story to retell, cause kids these days are great at gossiping. But my heart just wasn’t in it. None of the stories floating around in my head mirrored Shakespeare. So I desided to write my own story and forget about copying the classics.

THE SECRETS OF SMITH HALL is my current work in progress. In it one of my main chracters gets mono and ends up sleeping through about six chapters. The other characters begin to refer to her as Sleeping Beauty, and the nickname sticks even after she recovers. So that’s got me thinking again. Maybe this book wants to be a remake of SLEEPING BEAUTY. CAMP LIFE may have been Shakespeare, but now I’ve moved onto the Brothers Grimm.

I need to read up on my fairy tales. Haley is only asleep for six chapters, and the only plague spreading over the land is teen angst and immature behavior. So a lot of rewriting would be needed to force this story into the adaptation catigory. I don’t have any current plans of completely recreating a Grimm fairytale, but I hope to tie a few more fairytale themes into Smith Hall.

I’m not sure if I’m unoriginal, or just to well read. But there’s really no such thing as a new idea. So for now, I guess I’ll keep copying the classics.

Joke of the Day
There was once a young man who, in his youth, professed his desire to become a great writer.
When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!"

He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.

Monday, January 25, 2010

To Read or Not to Read

Of course I think that the general public should read. And if you’re illiterate, you should be listening to as many audio books as you can get your hands on. But what about writers, should they read too? More spacificially, should writers read books similar to the ones they are writing?
There are two philosophies on this topic. One is that in order to keep your writing fresh and new, you shouldn’t read your competiton. That way your prose wont be influenced by anyone else. The opposing camp claims that you will never know if you’re writing is fresh and new if you don’t read books by other people. Maybe someone else already wrote the unoriginal story in your head. And if you aren’t well read, you wont know how unoriginal you are.

I tend to fall more into the second camp. I think being well read is always a good thing. And having an idea of one’s market is important. As testiment to my love of books written by other people, I read more than 100 books last year. And more than 75 of them were read in the second half of the year. But I wasn’t writing when I was reading all those books.

Now that I’m deep in the trenches of my next novel, I’m finding it hard to find time to read. I bought a dozen books that are comp titles to my WIP on my kindle to take with me to Spain/Morocco over X-mas. But I only read half of them on the trip. So now I have all these great books on my kindle that I feel obligated to read. But when am I ever going to find the time to read them. I’m writing during every free second.

It’s easier for me to find time to listen than it is for me to find time to read. I typically listen to four audio books for every one print book I read. But when my mind is swarming with ideas about my own characters it’s harder to care about the characters of others. So I find myself listening to music a lot more than audio books. My second problem is that I can’t find every book in audio. Most of the books I’ve been listening to lately have been YA so they are in the same genre as my WIP, but that’s about the extent of their similarities.

Last week I listened to the first two books in the Artimas Fowl series. I expect the next three books I listen to will be the last three books in the series. It’s this fun paranormal kids series with human Artimus interacting with picksies, lepercons, and fairies. The thing I like about this series is that Artimus is a villan, which is a nice change of pace from the Harry Potter norm. But I don’t write fantacy, or paranormal, or anything supernatural. I enjoy reading it, but it’s not doing anything to improve my understanding of the YA non-paranormal market.

To make matters worse, the book I’m currently writing is more of a boy book. I do have a major female MC, but she’s a total tomboy and all the other major characters are guys. When I’m not listening to YA-paranormal, I’m listening to totally girlsentric YA. Having listened to more girl power novels than I can stomach may be why I decided to attempt to write a boy book. So maybe I do know the YA market. I’ll try to stop feeling guilty that I’m not reading all the non-paranormal boy books currently living on my kindle.

Joke of the Day
A linguistics professor was lecturing to his English class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."
A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

Friday, January 22, 2010

You Don’t Have to Flounder Alone

In Wednesday’s post, I mensioned that I just started a new writing class. I received several comments left by other asspiring writers claiming that they were jealous. This shocked me. If you want to take a writing class, what’s stopping you? There is no reason for anyone to be jealous of me.

My surrpize lead me to think it might not be a horrible idea to let other writers know what opportunities are out there. I live in Portland, Oregon and can really only speak to the opportunities for aspiring writers here. Since it rains something like 364 days a year in Portland, lots of Portlanders spend their time indoors reading. Where you have lots of readers, it’s easy to find lots of writers. So there may be more opportunities here then there are in other place. But my guess is, if you looked hard enough you could even find writing groups in bright sunny cities like Miami.

The first thing I did when I started taking my writing seriously was join Willamette Writers, a Portland based network of writers. For just $36 a year, I get a helpful newsletter and the opportunity to attend insightful monthly meatings where successful writers talk about the ins and outs of the profession. Plus I get to claim I belong to the same club as Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain, and Phillip Margolin. This makes me feel like a total bad ass – even though I’m not one. The Willamette Writers also holds a conference each summer that cost more than $36, but is attended by lots of agents and editors so I’m not complaining.

I also belong to a writing critique group that meets once a month. We swap chapters and give each other useful feedback and all that good stuff. I met all the members of my critique group through Willamette Writers and have beniffited a great deal from being a part of that group.

Beyond Willamette Writers, there are a lot of other places where people hoping to improve their writing craft can take classes. I have found that I really like The Attic Writers Workshop, this hole in the wall attic space in east Portland where experienced writers pass on their wisdom to writers earlier in their journeys. The class I just started is a story structure class at the Attic taught by the always hellarious author/playwrite Marc Acito. Out of the thirteen students in my class, two already have agents, three are facing a blank first page of their first novel, and the rest of us live somewhere in between.

This is the third class I’ve taken at the Attic. I’ve never taken any writing classes anywhere else. But I’ve made my way onto enough writer list serves that I get emails about other classes from time to time. I know that several of the local indie bookstores offer workshops for writers lead by local authors. These can be one day events or several week courses. There are also several author lectures at local libraries. These tend to be geared more toward the reader, but are sometimes focused on writing.

Beyond the basic machanics of writing, the main thing I’ve learned by taking classes and attending events lead by big name best sellers is that writers are all just people. The act of writing is very solitary, and most people that make a full time career of writing get lonely. So they like hanging out with other writers and talking to other people. If you start staulking Dan Brown you might be awarded a restraining order. But attending networking type events with reputable professional writers is a great opportunity for you to learn, and them to change out of their PJ’s.

Joke of the Day
A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.
She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.
"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."
A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.
"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"
"Oh no, it's not," replied St. Peter. "Here, your work gets published."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Theme of My Life

Last night I started a new writing class. Well, I’m a kind of slow learner and I actually took the exact same class a year and a half ago. But a new term started yesturday, so lets pretend like I’m gonna learn something new.

The teacher left us last night with a question. What is the point of your story? Once the plot and characters and everything else is stripped away, what is your book actually about? I thought about this question last night and the second I came up with an answer, it hit me. My last book was about the exact same thing. Every book I’ve ever started has been about the exact same thing. Ever curnal of an idea that I haven’t even begun to write is about the exact same thing. The plots and characters can be totally different, but my writing is always my writing. And I only seem to have one point.

So here it is. Being a misfit is okay. Simple right? Basically, I think that all people, but teenagers especially, are really good at casting themselves in fake identities. Pier pressure and societal norms and familial obligations and a million other things constantly tell us who we are supposed to be. But people are all different and you might not be that perfect person that everyone is supposed to strive toward. And that is okay.

If you have a million friends, who don’t know you because you keep yourself locked deep inside, life can be really lonely. Happiness might not lie at the center of the in crowd or in the flashist office in town. Accepting the reality of your own identity and learning to love that person is the key to growing up. And if you’re really lucky you may even find one or two other misfits who dig the real you.

That’s it. That is what all books by Katherine Elliott Scott are about. The false identities my characters take on are all different. And the people they are inside are even more divers. But the struggle is the same. Life is life. And being a misfit is still okay.

Joke of the Day
What did the hydrogen atom say to the heleum atom?
I got my ion you.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spreading the Gospel of Audio Books

I know that some people have a hard time processing information heard aloud, and that audio books aren’t for everyone. But I expect there are a lot more people who could beniffit from audio books than are currently listening. So I’m just going to step up on my soap box for a moment and tell you how much I love them.

As a dyslexic, I have listened to thousands of audio books in my life, and read hundreds. At least 95% of all the books I’ve expereinced were read alloud to me – either by a teacher, parent, or audio book reader. Audio books taught me how to love literature long before I was able to read books for myself.

Now that I can and do read, I still spend a lot of time plugged into audio books. In 2009 I consumed 115 books. But 83 of them came to me in audio. If I limited myself to paper and e-books only, I’d never be able to read more than 50 books a year. There just isn’t enough time in a day.

For people new to the world of audio books, let me share some good audio book sorces. The absolute best place to get audio books is RFB&D (recordings for the blind and dyslexic). This service is only available to people with a print related disability. It is a result of the American Disability Act and provides every book with a isbn number registared with the library of congress in audio – including text books. If a book is not available in audio, the library of congress will hire someone to record it for you. There is no way I ever would have survived college without RFB&D. If you’re blind or dyslexic and aren’t a member of RFB&D, you are selling yourself short.

If you don’t qualify for RFB&D, the next place to look for audio books is your local public library. Libraries always have an audio book section. Even the standard print reader can check out an audio book or two and listen to it in the car. Author, Steven King, admits in his memoir ON WRITING that he listens to about 10% of the books he “reads” while driving. Do you really think you’re better than Steven King?

If you live in Oregon and want to up your listening anti, you can utilize Library 2 Go. With an Oregon State library card, you can check out up to six audio books at a time and load them directly onto your I-pod. At the end of the check out period the files automatically deleate from your computer. My father, who is also dyslexic and enjoys a good audio book just as much as the next guy, just went out and bought an I-pod because he was jealous of all the great books my brother and I were listening to. If you don’t live in Oregon, you should check with your own library. I expect many other states provide similar services.

If you want to actually pay for all your audio books. Audible is an on-line bookstore connected with Amazon that features downloadable audio books. I don’t find ethical issues in frequenting the library and have never actually used this service.

One for cost audio book service that I do use is Audio Bookworm. This site is a netflix for books on cd type service. For $28 per month, you can recieve up to two audio books at a time. Audio Bookworm doesn’t have as large of a total selection as Library 2 Go, but they do have more recent best sellers. Also since you don’t have to worry about books being checked out by other patrons it’s easier to get the titles you crave. The one downside of Audio Bookworm is that the most books are 8-12 CD’s long and need to be shipped in a small package, so they spend a lot of time hung up in the mail.

If you to are an audio book fanatic and get your audio books from another sorce, please let me know what it is. I’m always on the prowl for a good listen. And if you aren’t a listener, WHY NOT? You are definitely missing out.

Joke of the Day
A person who speaks three languages is called tri-lingual.
A person who speaks two language is called bi-lingual.
A person who speaks one langauage is called American.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Say What?

I write in first person. Third person can work well for adult/literary books. But I write YA. And teenagers NEVER say what they're really thinking. So I the world of lying back stabbers, jumping inside a characters head is a handy tool. But every story has multiple sides, so I like jumping in the heads of more than one character. The result, I write first person with multiple POV characters. I switch narrators at chapter breaks, cause I want to be nice to my readers - plus I'm lazy.
Having multiple point of view characters does provide an extra challange. They all have to sound different. But since I'm writing YA, they also all have to sound like teenagers. I could write an entire novel of "um, yeah, like, oh my god, I'm totally screwed." But that could get annoying really fast. In order to determine the variability in my characters voices, I decided to make word clouds (with the help of the kind people over at

Below are six different word clouds based on the vocabularies of six different narrators.
Joceyln and Hunter are the two POV characters from CAMP LIFE. The novel I'm currently querying. My WIP, THE SECRETS OF SMITH HALL, currently has six POV characters. Haley, Austin, and Kyle do most of the story telling and the other narrators pop in infrequently. So I only made the three word clouds for that book. Then I also made a word cloud of my own voice from, THE GIANT IN THE ATTIC ,the memoir I'm currently procrastinating.
These all look totally different right? Maybe I should work on expanding my vocabulary.

Jocelyn from CAMP LIFE

Hunter from CAMP LIFE




Joke of the Day

Workplace Vocabulary Words:

Blamestorming - Sitting in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

Crop Dusting - Surrepticiously passing gas while passing through a cube farm.

Prairy Dogging - Heads popping up over cube walls to look out for preditors.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: You’re Writing – Who Knew

I hadn’t decided what I wanted to blog about yet for today, when I saw that this weeks Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway was on the topic of peoples reactions when they hear I’m writing a novel. So I figured I’d play along and just blog about that.

People’s reactions tend to vary depending upon how they know me. Since I’m dyslexic, some people that know me well were suprized when I first started writing. But I’ve always been extreamly imaginative, so most of my close friends and family members simply accepted my writing as a given.

The surprize is more likely to come from people that I know professionally. I’m an engineer by day. I think my inability to read is what pushed me to toward math and science as a kid. I didn’t want people to think I was stupid, so I wasted a lot of time honing my mental math skills. Then when I got older I realized that engineering was something I’m pretty good at.

I’m a total geek and get along well with most engineers. But as a whole, we aren’t normally an overly literate lot. I have a couple of engineering friends that enjoy reading, but not many. They’re more likely to be into video games or something really cool like that. Clearly they need to mastered the art of listening to audio books and playing video games at the same time like me.

I do sometimes get blank stares from my engineering friends when I tell them I spend all my free time writing novels. But I think I get even more shocked expressions when I tell my writer friends that I’m an engineer. Many non-writers think that it’s something they could do if they tried. But most non-engineers admit that they don’t understand what I do all day.

Joke of the Day
What do you get when you cross an elephant and a mountain climer?
Nothing - you can't cross anything with a scaler.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to the Ordanay

I had a great time in Spain and Morocco, but lets be honest, vaccation is not real life. It’s like this weird paralel universe, where lifes most troubling choices involve which museam to visit first.

I got home at 2:00 am on Saturday, January 2nd. But I didn’t return to normal life then. Instead I returned to crazy hecktic work life. Apparently my co-workers are all totally lost without me. Plus I had an enormous deadline on Tuesday, January 5th and another big deadline on Friday, January 8th. So at 11:00 in the morning on the 2nd, I got the phone call asking me when I’d be coming into work.

I worked Saturday afternoon, all day Sunday, and put in ten plus hour days every day last week. Spending every waking hour at the office did wonders for helping me get over my jetlag. But it didn’t do much to return me to reality. I’m so not a workaholic, and my reality rairly involves spending twelve hours at the office on a Sunday.

But now my projects are done. And life can finally return to normal. Over the weekend I finally found the time to unpack and do my laundry. It rained a lot while I was on vaccation, so some of my socks seriously needed washing.

I also wrote a lot last weekend. I left my laptop at home during my trip, and didn’t have time to write last week while in overworked engineer mode. But this past weekend, I added almost 10,000 words to my work in progress. I’m starting to really like my characters. I’m a total pantser and started this story with no idea where I’d be going with it. But now that I’m 40k words into the rough draft, I’m starting to make plans about my ending. I think this is gonna be a good book. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

It is a little odd though. My life has been so hectic lately, and now that everythings back to normal, I’m living in the minds of fictional teenagers. I may not be the average engineer, but I’m really happy. I’m good at my job, but I hate working overtime. Staying up all night writing stories, though. That’s pure bliss. And now that things have calmed down at the office, I might even be able to crank out another chapter during my lunch break. It’s nice being back in reality.

Joke of the Day
Why were the mathematition put 239 beans in her bean soup?
Because otherwise it would be to farty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Tales from the Moroccan Marketplace

I desided I wanted to buy a painting, so I headed into a stall in the Marrakesh Souk selling paintings.

“Bronger,” the shopkeeper greated me.

I did not respond, but lifted one of the paintings to examine it.

“Hello, do you like this?” the shopkeeper came up beside me and handed me another painting.

I smiled and examined the painting he gave me.

“Are you from London?” the shopkeeper asked.

“No,” my husband shook his head. “Guess where we are from.”

“Are you from Australea?”




“I know, you are from Africa like me.”


“Are you from Mars?”

I smiled at the shopkeeper. “Yes, he is from Mars.” I gestured toward my husband. “But I am from Venus.”

The shopkeeper laughed and handed me another painting to look at.

“Is this you?” My husband pointed to the signature at the bottom of the painting.

“Yes, yes, this is me. You are psycic.”

“No, not pscycic,” my husband shakes his head. “I am American.”

“American?” The shopkeeper beams at us. “I love American.”

I had always thought the rest of the world hated Americans. Half of the time I just lied to people and said I was Canadian. “Why do you love America?”

“Because President Obama has brown skin like me.” The shopkeeper put his hand out next to mine and pointed to the backs of our hands. “See dark, light, my skin is just like Obama.”

“But we are not different.” I take the shopkeepers hand and flip it over. Then I place my own palm next to his. “See we are the same.”

“Yes, yes, we are the same.” The shop keeper puts his hand over mine. “In Africa we see proficy, praise to Ala, in hand. Can I look at your hand?”

“Yes,” I blush as the shopkeeper begins to read my palm.

“You have a very long life line, you will live to see your grandchildren. But I see confusion in your hand too. You tell me, do you have a hard time making up your mind?”

“Yes,” I laugh.

“Praise Ala, I knew it,” the shopkeeper claps his hands. He touches his hand to his cheek and turns his head. I bend forward and kiss the air an inch away from his cheek.

“Hey, hey, hey,” my husband shakes his head at the shopkeeper. “Lets look at these paintings.”

“Ah yes, which one do you like?” I look through a dozen paintings and find the one I like best.

“How much?”

“Normally 500 dirham, but for you my beautiful friend, 400 dirham.”

“No,” my husband shakes his head. “100.”

“What? This is a good quality oil painting. You can dump water on it even. See, see.” The shopkeeper grabs a jug of water off the floor and dumps it on the painting. “See, very good quality, 350.”


“You think I’m trying to cheat you? This is nice painting. You don’t want to buy, just to insult me.”

“120 max.” We turn and walk out of the shop.

The shopkeeper calls after us and we continue walking. He puts the painting in a bag and runs after us. “Ok, my friends, sold. 120 dirham.”

We give him the money and continue on our way.

Joke of the Day
What is a mathimatican's favorite item of clothing?
My sister in laws answer - A two-two
My brother in laws answer - An alge-bra
My husbands answer - A three-three (I have no idea what he's wearing most of the time maybe this is why)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wordless Communication

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. After visiting the Museum of Reina Sofia in Madrid, I agree with this sentament. The museum is Spain’s national museam of modern art, and contains an entire wing dedicated to the works of Pablo Picasso. Picasso appears at the top of nearly every list of famous dyslexics. Viewing his masterpieces close up, shows how an illiterate mind can tell an onforgettable tale without words.

One of Picasso’s most known masterpieces, the Guernica, is on display at the Sofia Museam. This painting shows the horror and massicar at Guernica during the Spanish Civil War.

At the Sofia Museam, there is also a lesser known series of Picasso paintings that depict woman crying. The Sofia contains the “Woman Crying”, “Head Crying”, “Hankerchief I”, “Hankerchief II”, and "Hankerchief III”. Depicted below is “Weeping Woman” which matches this series but is on display in a London museam not a Madrid Museam.

The aggany present in this woman’s face, as well of the many faces in Guernica tell as story that could bearly be parralled with ten thousand words, let alone one. Seeing this artwork fills me with hope.

Pablo Picasso was an amazingly gifted man, with a unique vission of the world around him. He found a way to communicate the ideas in his mind without using words. This is a good thing, because as a dyslexic reading and writing weren’t his strong suits. Not everyone is able to paint like Picasso, and not everyone is able to read. But somehow, we all find a way to tell our stories.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Como Se Dese Confused?

I'm back, did you miss me?

I just returned from a wonderful two week vaccation in Spain and Morocco. According to the "why are you reading this blog?" pole (which is still open so if you haven't voted yet there is still time), there are more people reading this blog that are interested in dyslexia than to little old me. So I'll try to skew my vaccation recap to look like a discussion about literacy.

Let's get something clear. I can bearly speak English, and am totally hopeless when it comes to learning foreign languages. It's not that I think English is better than other languages, or that I want to be insulting to people of other cultures by refusing to learn their language. I'm just not very good at it. So most of my attempts at forieng comunication fail.

I still love traveling. Everytime I go somewhere I come home wishing I had the means and time to travel more. And these past two weeks in Spain and Morocco have been marvelous - even if I didn't know how to talke to anyone.

Spain wasn't to bad. I took Spanish in highschool. That doesn't mean I can speak it, but I at least know how to ask people "donde esta el bano?" and if I'm really lucky and they answer with lots of pointing I can even compreheand their answers. My husband also studied Spanish in HS and my father in law is nearly fluent. So when my one linguisted limitation reared its nasty head, there was usually someone else around to help me out.

So why is it that I accedentily ordered an Octopus Omlette on day for lunch in Madrid? Nothings more appetising than a mouth full of tenticles in the morning. Other than my inability to read the menus, I didn't have much trouble in Spain.

Things were more complicated in Morocco. There people speak Arabic, and reading that is so far beyond my capabilities there really isn't even a reason to try. Before Morocco became an indipendent nation, it was a French colony, so the western language people speak there is French. I know three words in French, thank you, yes, and no. That and sign language was my only defence in navegating through the exciting city of Mereckesh.

My sister in law did study abroad in Paris while in college, so she managed to searve as a translator when we did inportant things like purchase train tickets. When we were lucky enough to find restarants with French menus she helped out there too. I am happy to say I didn't eat a single octobus while in Morocco, and you can't really go wrong with a lamb kabab.

The market venders in Morocco did display the most amazing ligusitic capablities I've ever witnessed. Nobody can claim that the people in the developing world aren't inteligent. And it doesn't matter where you're from or what language you speak, the vendors in the Mereckesh Souks can sell you their goods.

Anytime a westerner walked by one of their stalls they would hollor out a greating in French. If you don't respond, they'll pop into English, the Spanish, German, ect, spouting greatings in every language under the sun. My brother in law speaks Russian. Just for kicks he did all his barganing in one stall in Russian, claiming to be from St Petersburg. The vendor had no probles selling his items.

We may have better roads and cleaner drinking wather than they have in Morocco. But I've lived in the United States for 30 years and I can bearly read English. Yet there are hundreds of intellegent Moroccans that have found a way to make a living and support their families by learing how to say "Do you like this scarf? I'll give you a good price," in more than a dozen languages.

Joke of the Day
An American traveling in Spain stopped at a local restarant for dinner. While sipping his sangaria, he noticed a sizzling, scrumptions looking platter being served at the next table. Not only did it look good, it smelled wonderful. He asked the waiter, "What is that you just served?"
The waiter replied, "Ah senoir, you have excellent taste. Those are bull testicles from the bull fight this morning. A delicacy."
The American shrugged his shoulders. "What the hell, I'm on vacation. Bring me an order."
The waiter shook his head, "I'm sorry senor. There is only one serving per day because there is only one bull fight each morning. If you come early tomorrow andd place your order, we will be sure to save you this delicacy."
The next morning, the American returned to place his order. That evening he was served the delicacy of the day. The meal was delicous and he enjoyed every bite, but he finished far sooner than he would have liked. He called the waiter over. "This was wonderful, but much smaller than the plate I saw you serve yesterday."
"Si senor. Sometimes the bull wins."